By Maha Ellawati.
Benghazi, 13 October:
A huge fire broke out at a bed mattress-manufacturing factory in Benghazi yesterday, forcing residents living nearby . . .[restrict]to temporarily evacuate their homes as they were filled with huge clouds of smoke.
The fire erupted at the Al-Ahlam Sponge factory around 2:30am yesterday morning in the Abu Atni area of Benghazi, and took firefighters almost half an hour to extinguish completely.
Lieutenant Colonel Yusef Kadeiki, of the civil defence department, confirmed that nobody had been injured in the blaze and sought to quash rumours that the fire had been started deliberately.
He also praised firefighters for their bravery in tackling the inferno in spite of inadequate equipment.
Some Benghazi residents have claimed that the fire may have been started by locals as part of a broader protest over the National Oil Company’s recent decision to put on hold a plan to radically enhance its Benghazi branch by giving it de facto control over all of eastern Libya’s oil production.
On Tuesday, the move was placed under review following protests by NOC workers in Tripoli, prompting counter-demonstrations in Benghazi.
It remains unclear, however, quite what the Al-Ahlam Sponge factory has to do with the work of the NOC. [/restrict]